Horn Seed Co., considered to be Oklahoma City's first modern garden center, is closing after 91 years.
A devastating fire earlier this year and another brutally hot summer convinced owners Beverly and David Shumake they couldn't keep the business afloat.
“It's breaking our hearts,” Beverly Shumake said Wednesday after the announcement was made. “We've had so many customers come in and say, ‘Can't we save this business?' I wish there was a way.”
Horn Seed Co., at 1409 Northwest Expressway, is known for its customer service and yearly Christmas open house, which featured a visit from Santa, horse-drawn sleigh rides, Christmas trees and decorations. Representatives also are known for their deep knowledge of plants and flowers.
A fire in February wiped out this year's Christmas inventory, which is ordered nearly a year in advance, and it couldn't be replaced. The store has also been hit by two recent hail storms. Each resulted in high insurance deductible payments, Shumake said.
A second summer of extreme heat has been devastating for the business, which is weather-dependent, she added. Horn Seed Co. guarantees its products, so it has been replacing many customers' plants that couldn't survive the weather.
Beverly Shumake said she and her husband own the business but they've never been able to secure ownership of the building, and the rent has continued to increase. The property is for sale.
Horn Seed Co. was founded in 1921 by Henry Horn, David Shumake's great grandfather, in a shop on California Avenue. At one time, the business expanded to three locations, but a few years ago the Shumakes became disabled and closed the others to focus on the Northwest Expressway store.
Customers offered notes of support via Facebook and other social media sites on Wednesday.
“I'm so very sad,” one woman wrote. “I love coming to Horn's.”
Beverly Shumake said the decision to close involved many tears.
“We've loved this business. And it's not been from lack of love that we have tried to keep it going,” she said.
Horn Seed Co.